We currently live in a two dimensional world of tapping and sliding fingers on screens, but babies and young children need to touch, taste, smell, shake and bang three dimensional objects in order to develop thinking and learning skills.

The Treasure Basket and Heuristic play approach is all about offering natural and household objects to babies and young children to play with. This simple approach promotes extraordinary capacities of concentration, intellectual curiosity and manipulative mastery.

Full of resource ideas and activities, this book offers accessible explanations of how the under 3’s think and learn, step by step guidance for setting up play sessions and descriptions of the best materials to offer. Featuring original interviews between the author and Elinor Goldschmied, who was the pioneer of the Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play, this third edition of Developing Play for the Under 3s has been thoroughly updated to include:

    • A new chapter with case studies to show how Heuristic Play can be offered to the 2-4 year olds.
    • A new chapter exploring the myths and misunderstandings of this approach.
    • Links to the Forest School movement.
    • Research evidence supported by case studies.
    • The characteristics of effective learning and how the Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play promote these.
    • Information about the Froebel Archive project, bringing the story of Elinor Goldschmied’s work alive through film.


Based on a wealth of research into how babies learn and the principles of learning, together with the author’s own personal experience of working with the under 3s, this book will be indispensable for anyone involved in the care and development of children in this age group.

chapter |4 pages


chapter 1|8 pages

A tribute to Elinor Goldschmied

chapter 2|12 pages

How babies and children learn

chapter 4|12 pages

The Treasure Basket

‘What is the object like?’

chapter 5|16 pages

Offering the Treasure Basket

chapter 6|14 pages

Heuristic Play

‘What can I do with the object?’

chapter 7|12 pages

Offering Heuristic Play material

chapter 8|14 pages

Heuristic Play for 2- to 4-year-olds

chapter 9|6 pages

Myths and misunderstandings

chapter 10|6 pages

Play with a purpose (2- to 3-year-olds)

‘What can this object become?’

chapter 11|8 pages

Expanding the approach

chapter 12|2 pages